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How to use SAP Activate methodology in multi-country deployment projects

I originally published this blog post on SAP Activate Jam space about 4 years ago under title “How to use SAP Activate in Global Deployment Projects.” I updated it for this publication to reflect the latest thinking about the use of SAP Activate methodology in multi-country deployments. I encourage SAP Activate practitioners to share their learnings and practices in the comments to this blog post.

Over the past few weeks, I had several conversations with SAP customers and SAP colleagues about how they can use SAP Activate framework in multi-country implementation projects. While SAP Activate does not offer a dedicated multi-country template roadmap in SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer application, the concept will scale for both initial build of the multi-country template (coupled with initial deployment in first sites) and on-going rollout of the multi-country template into subsequent rollout locations/business units in additional countries.

The goal of this blog is to provide an outline of how to approach multi-country implementation programs with the SAP Activate methodology and how to leverage available accelerators in your program. I will outline the key principles, accelerators and tools that support SAP customers in their multi-country deployments.

Figure 1 – Overview of multi-country deployment using SAP Activate methodology

Overview

The Figure 1 above shows the overview flow of the multi-country or multi-site deployment and rollout consisting of the Template Project and Rollout Project. The Template Project section on the top of the image shows the build of the multi-country template, including the use of fit-to-standard re-using the pre-delivered business processes and the initial deployment to the first wave of sites. The decision on the first set of sites may be driven by decision to follow either geographical deployment or deployment per business unit/function in the business. The second part of the image is the Rollout Project (in the lower part of the Figure) that shows the key steps for execution of rollout project activities, including the use of fit-to-standard that leverages the template with ready-to-run customer specific processes created during the initial multi-country Template Project.

In this blog post, I will not be discussing the strategic decisions project team and project leaders need to make to determine optimal deployment strategy (geographical, by business unit, or combination of the two). But rather, focus on the tactical activities that support the creation a multi-national template and the steps to roll it out into multiple locations in subsequent Rollout Projects with SAP Activate. I will discuss how the SAP Activate approach is used for global projects and I’ll point out any differences or specific activities global template and rollout teams need to consider while building or rolling out the template.

Template Project

Figure 2 below shows the details of the Template Project in which the project team follows the SAP Activate methodology. We will go into more details in this section.

Figure 2 – Overview of template project flow in multi-country deployment using SAP Activate methodology

The template project team is re-using available pre-configured ready-to-run business processed, either the pre-configuration packages from SAP or packages provides by SAP ecosystem partners. SAP offers the following packages that project teams should use to get their projects under way:

These packages provide customers with ready-to-run business processes and are the starting point for conducting the fit-to-standard workshops as part of the solution definition and design activities. The fit-to-standard analysis workshops in your Template Project are run in the same way as in the SAP Activate projects – this accelerator details how to prepare and conduct fit-to-standard analysis workshops. Last year, we have introduced new remote playbooks for customers that are running their project in a remote setup. Here is my earlier blog post on the topic.

Project teams in Template Project should also apply the Solution Standardization Board (SSB) governance model to minimize the number of unnecessary custom code and custom objects in their system. We will not detail this topic in this article, but you can review the details in the previous blog post about project governance and SSB here you can also find the story from Andre Malan about the value SSB provided to his customer’s project here.

The result of the fit-to-standard workshops is a backlog containing all delta requirements in the form of user stories that are complemented with additional solution design documentation (like user experience mock-ups, functional specs, etc.). The backlog summarizes what the project team needs to build during the Realize phase to complete the template for the deployment in the first rollout location(s).

In addition to conducting the standard SAP Activate fit-to-standard analysis workshops during the Explore phase, the project team in the Template Project needs to categorize the business processes in scope to indicate the level of standardization/globalization. This categorization will help the project team later during the Rollout Project to scope and plan the fit-to-standard workshops for the rollout sites. For example, the rollout project team will not be allowed to make any changes to global process, they will have limited ability to make changes to standardized processes and they will be able to influence execution of full scope of local processes in the Rollout Project fit-to-standard analysis.

For your reference, below is the list of categories that project team in Template Project should use during the design of the multi-national template. These categories are assigned to the business scenarios and processes to indicate the span of control for the business process. This categorization helps with management of the scope of work during the rollout — e.g. only processes that can be changed by the rollout sites should be considered for the fit-to-standard workshops. Here are the categories:

  • Global Process – A process is global when it is integrated throughout the organization: that is, when it is cross-functional or cross-organizational. An element that is flagged as global cannot be changed in a local rollout; in other words, the structure element and all associated business content are predetermined.
  • Standard Complete Process – A process is standardized if it must be executed in the same way in the entire organization (in all relevant organizational units). A standardized complete element (and its business content) can be seen as a proposition from the global template that should be used as delivered. However, the local team may extend the structure element with additional substructures and with additional business content.
  • Standard Partial Process – A process is standardized if it must be executed in the same way in the entire organization (in all relevant organizational units). A standardized partial element (and its business content) can be seen as a proposition from the global template that should be used as delivered, but the process consists of subprocesses that are locally regulated by legal requirements, and these need to be defined on a local level. The local team can design their own processes if the parent company agrees to this.
  • Harmonized Process – These business processes will be standardized in the future. It is recommended that the local rollout team use the harmonized processes. A process is harmonized if it is recommended to execute the process in a specific way. Harmonization is a first step toward standardization but without mandatory elements. One reason can be for organizational readiness, or there may be many legal requirements preventing standardization. For the local team, the same activities are allowed or forbidden as for standard partial processes.
  • Local Process – A process is local if it is not possible, or it makes no sense, to define it as global, standardized, or harmonized: for example, locally unique taxation processes. Local units must design this process for their needs. These processes are necessary for obtaining executable software for testing. For the local team, the same activities are allowed or forbidden as for standard partial processes.

The rest of the Template Project is managed in a similar fashion as any other project that follows the SAP Activate methodology. The project team in a Template Project should build the template using the iterative, incremental build of capabilities in short sprints. Then, the template is deployed in the first set of sites and customer uses the functionality to run their business in these first sites. You can refer to the SAP Activate methodology in SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer for detailed guidance in the specific roadmap that fits the solution your project team is deploying.

Rollout Project

Let’s briefly talk about the Rollout Project. The main change that the Rollout Project team applies is that they use the template with customer specific business processes as the foundation for fit-to-standard workshops as you can see in Figure 3 below. The assignment of categories we have explained above dictate which processes need to be included in the scope of the fit-to-standard workshops – e.g. only the processes that the local project team has ability to extend (Standard Complete), change (Standard Partial and Harmonized) or the ones they need to define completely based on local design (e.g. Local processes). In the Rollout Project the goal is to further reduce the deviation from the pre-defined template and governance principles such as Solution Standardization Board should be used to assess deviations from the customer specific standard defined in their template.

Figure 3 – Overview of rollout project flow in multi-country deployment using SAP Activate methodology

The Rollout Project team follows these steps for each of the rollout locations:

  • Use template into the Development system (in case of dedicated landscape for rollout project, the rollout project team deploys the template to their dedicated Development system).
  • Perform fit-to-standard analysis focused on Local processes and adjustments of Harmonized/Standardized processes per governance set forth by Template Project
  • Capture backlog items for all identified delta configuration items, including delta design documents.
  • Implement the agreed upon delta requirements in the Development system.*
  • Test the solution in the Test environment.*
  • Deploy the solution into the Production system for the rollout site.*

* Note that the above description is based on RISE with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition and the system names may differ for other solutions.

Additional Remarks

Implementations project teams embarking on multi-national deployment projects will benefit greatly from using Application Lifecycle Management tools that provide support, automation and control for the activities like requirements management, testing. Customers planning their deployment should consider using ALM tools like SAP Cloud ALM or SAP Solution Manager. Teams that are using SAP Solution Manager and adopted agile principles in their project should consider using the Focused Build For SAP Solution Manager that supports them in planning, management and execution of global template build and rollouts. They will find following document useful in setting up their environment and using it in conjunction with SAP Activate methodology – download guide here.

Please share your feedback and questions in comments to this blog post. Share your experiences from multi-country deployment projects and techniques you used successfully to control the complex and large-scale SAP deployments. You can explore more resources in SAP Community using tag  #sapactivate.

 

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  • Thanks a lot for the hints Jan. One "semi-technical" question still open. You write "the rollout project team deploys the template to their dedicated Development system" - IN WHICH FORM could the template be delivered to other sites, countries, teams ?

    • Thank you, Dimitri. I assume you focus on how to package the configuration in your question, but there is also the solution documentation, design documents, setup guides and such. Best is to use ALM tool like SAP Solution Manager to help you manage this. When it comes to config here are the options most teams use.

      Let’s talk S/4HANA first - in case of centralized landscape you don’t need to worry about it as all teams can share the same systems in the landscape. In case you have separate system or landscape to rollout into, you can move configuration using BC-Sets or if you are completely re-using the template system your initial setup could be done with system copy. The setup of integrations will need to be re-done manually, so best is to have detailed documentation similar to what SAP delivers in setup guides.

      If we talk about SAP S/4HANA Cloud (public cloud) your rollout team will activate new country or add new organizational entity and start configuration for that country/entity using the configuration capabilities in the solution. There is an accelerator in Activate for S4HC that provides more details. You can find it in SAP Activate Roadmap Viewer.